The Jackets tried hard, they really did. The effort was there, from start to finish. They were the better team for most of the final two periods, but at the end of the game defensive miscues and poor defensive-zone play in general led to the team falling to the Predators for the fifth time in six contests this season.
If you want to read how it all went down, feel free to check it out after the jump:First Period
The Jackets took to the ice with a slightly different lineup-R.J. Umberger was back in action, Ryan Johansen was the corresponding healthy scratch, and Steve Mason got the start between the pipes.
The pace of the first fine minutes was brisk, but neither team could get any quality shots on net. The play was very back and forth, with a handful of big hits. The Jackets' fourth line of Derek MacKenzie, Jared Boll and Colton Gillies did a great job early of creating energy and cycling the puck down low in the Nashville zone, but were unable to turn that energy and hard work into scoring chances.
At the 11:53 mark, the Jackets were scrambling in front of their net. Fedor Tyutin attempted to backhand the puck out of the zone, but it went off a Nashville skate and ended up on Antoine Vermette's stick in the slot. While facing his goaltender, Vermette attempted a pass to Brett Lebda, who was alone to Mason's left. The pass was intercepted, naturally, by Martin Erat. Erat slid the puck to Mike Fisher beside him, who wired the puck past Mason.
1-0 Predators: Mike Fisher (Martin Erat)
The Predators continued to pressure the Jackets off the ensuing faceoff. One particular instance the Preds forced Mason from his net, and before he could recover they got a shot on net, but luckily for the Jackets Aaron Johnson was in position to block the shot.
At the 10:42 mark, the Preds went on the powerplay after John Moore was "forced" into a tripping penalty after failing to clear the puck just before his blueline. They were able to get a pair of shots on Mason, but couldn't beat him.
Soon after the penalty ended, the Jackets finally showed some life. Rick Nash was making things happen, setting up linemates Vermette and Vinny Prospal, but Pekka Rinne stood tall.
Tomas Kubalik had a great chance with a few minutes left in the period, when he was able to fire a wrister on Rinne after taking a sweet feed from Derick Brassard. Kubalik has looked quite comfortable since joining the team, I'll be surprised if he isn't a member of the team on a full-time basis next season.
With just over three minutes to go in the period, the Predators skated in on a two-on-one. Mason got a piece of the puck after the shot was fired, but on the ensuing scramble newcomer Brett Lebda was whistled for delay of game when he knocked the net off its moorings.
The Predators kept the puck in the Columbus zone for the first 1:55 of the powerplay, keeping the Jackets totally hemmed in. Craig Smith had the best chance on the man advantage, beating Mason but not the post at one point.
End of the first period, 1-0 Predators.
The opening minutes of the second saw the two teams alternate possession of the puck, but neither team could solve the goaltenders.
At about the four minute mark, the Jackets finally showed up. Brassard was moved up to Nash's line, and the created a pair of solid chances together. Umberger was strong on the forecheck, and created a pair of chances himself.
The third line for the Jackets joined the attack as well, with Derek Dorsett looking quite confident with the puck on his stick. Dorse has been one of the Jackets' most consistent players this season, and is one of the very few Columbus players to be having a breakout season.
At the 6:14 mark, the Jackets were rewarded for their hard work. Nash stripped a Nashville defender of the puck at their blueline, and raced in on Rinne. He pulled off a deke, sliding the puck behind the goaltender to tie the game.
1-1: Rick Nash (Unassisted)
At 8:58 Martin Erat went to the box for holding after grabbing and tossing Vinny Prospal behind the Columbus net. The Preds did a fantastic job on the killer for the first three-quarters of the man advantage, but the Jackets finally established possession with thirty seconds left. They were unable to score, but they absolutely peppered Rinne with shots. Brett Lebda came the closest, but wired a shot just over the crossbar.
Let it be known that I actually really like Nashville's gold sweaters. Just sayin'.
The fourth line for Columbus was quote noticeable on this night, mainly for the energy and surprising offensive chances they were creating. Colton Gillies has been the perfect fit alongside Derek MacKenzie -both players never quit and Gillies makes for a great screen in front for Mac's wrist shots.
Near the end of the period, Brassard was moved back to the second line with Umberger and Kubalik. I'd love to be a fly on the way in coach's meetings when they discuss Brassard. He has looked very dangerous over the last five or so games, and has looked great when playing alongside Nash, yet he can't remain on the top line.
With 3:40 remaining in the period, the Preds were handed the infamous "too much man" penalty. The best chance did not come off a Columbus stick however. Mike Fisher picked up the puck in his zone, and literally went through Aaron Johnson at the blueline. A two-on-one developed, but Nash was able to get back and sweep the puck enough the disrupt Fisher's pass. With 20 seconds left in the powerplay however, the Jackets themselves were called for too many men, putting the teams four-on-four.
When the Predators went on their abbreviated powerplay, they hammered on the accelerator. Erat had a fantastic chance in front of the net, but rang the puck off the crossbar. Seconds later, Shea Weber uncorked a hard slapper from the point, which Mason was able to stop. The problem though, was that the rebound went right to Mike Fisher's stick. He didn't miss.
2-1 Predators: Mike Fisher (Shea Weber, Ryan Suter)
End of the second period, 2-1 Predators.
The first real action of the third period came with 17:08 left in the game. Fedor Tyutin went to the box for tripping, sending the Preds to the powerplay. The Jackets were effective on the kill, not allowing the Predators to get set up.
At the 7:37 mark the Preds took a two goal lead. The puck was at the bottom of a scrum in the slot in front of Mason, and it came loose to Matt Halischuk. Halischuk spun around and wired past Mason.
3-1 Predators: Matt Halischuk (Unassisted)
Things started to get a bit chippy after the goal, with the Jackets doing their best to pull within a goal. Colton Gillies had a big hit on one shift, and on the following shift Derek Dorsett was disturbing the shift in front of Rinne. You can't say the Jackets were lacking heart on this night.
With 4:08 left in the game, the Preds went to the powerplay with Dorsett in the box. The Preds scored of course, with Patric Hornqvist tipping-in a Ryan Suter point shot.
4-1 Predators: Patric Hornqvist (Ryan Suter, Martin Erat)
Final Score: 4-1 Predators.
- Mike Fisher had a solid game for the Preds, he was a physical force to go along with his goal scoring.
- The Jackets' fourth line really brought it tonight.
- Ryan Suter was great in his return from injury. It will be interesting to see if he's dealt before the end of the season.
Bottom of the Barrel
- John Moore has been playing very well of late, but he was brutal in the first two periods of tonight's game. He was turning the puck over, took a bad penalty and was not playing as physical as he had to at times.
- Antoine Vermette was nowhere to be found tonight, the only time I noticed him was when he giftwrapped the puck for the Preds in the slot, leading to their first goal.
- The Jackets were not good defensively. Again.